Parent-Child Collaboration


Everlyn Jamandra and her Parents

Everlyn Jamandra and her Parents

Eleven years old, graduating from 6th grade, shedding the “elementary school” mentality, and raring to enter seventh grade and into the intermediate league. What goes through the mind of an 11-year old youth about school and the future?

I am willing to bet most of such 11-year old thinking resembles a pail of benign, tangled and disorganized notions. Superfluous thoughts skewed by feelings, fairy tales, wild crushes, hazy ideas, exorbitant wishes, daydreams, strange desires, unachievable ambitions, unsteady emotions, hurts worse than death, diabolical ideas of revenge, mischief, puppy love, infatuation, nocturnal secrets… murky, opaque thoughts that seem like a multitude of narrow paths resembling ribbons etched on the grass where goats walk and graze, where kids run, cavort and play… just a sandbox.

The verdant landscape mind of an active 11-year old holds a world of promise. Parents must recognize, accept, and learn to help their child put order to such a youthful mind. Needed are patience, tolerance, love, fairness, firmness, and an even-handed hold on the reins. In time the youthful mind begins to put things in order, first separating the open fields from the hedges, demarcating the hills from the mountains, grouping the rocks from the sand dunes and partitioning the nice, approachable, gentle and kind adults from the wicked, uncaring ones. Order gradually emerges. Finally and hopefully, chaos becomes unpredictable calm.

The secret to a desired outcome is collaboration between parent and child based on mutual respect, driven by mutual trust that parent and child walk in the same direction, and going for the same goal.

I know. Easier said than done. Don’t just talk about it; work on it.

We Thank Our Donors


Cely Bilaoen Bautista SAS Class 1958

Cely Bilaoen Bautista SAS Class 1958

Mrs Celestina Bilaoen Bautista (left) – we call her “Cely” – supports our mission to help bright kids from poor families finish high school with financial aid. She staunchly believes that education is freedom.

She’s a retired registered nurse (RN), having worked in the Bronx hospitals of New York city for many years. Earlier in her life before finishing college and earning her Nursing degree, she attended and graduated from St Augustine School in Tagudin, province of Ilocos Sur, Philippines. Cely is a member of the famous SAS Class of 1958.

Never one to forget her humble beginnings, Cely is no stranger to hard work and self-reliance. She remembers the goodwill of others bestowed upon her specially when she was first starting her Nursing career. Her success story is our success story. She loves these disadvantaged kids. She backs her hope for their success with her continued support and donations to the high school fund.

Thank you Cely and may God bless you always.

SAS Personnel Day Celebration


SASPersonnelDayWhen I attended St Augustine School back in the ’50s it was a gender segregated school. By this I mean the girls had their buildings and grounds and the boys had the church plaza and their boy’s department building by the belfry. It was a different world. A world without girls is not a natural world. To this day as I reflect on those bygone days of high school, I can conclude that gender segregation deprived us boys of an opportunity to develop social skills specially with the opposite sex.

But hey, that’s neither here nor there, and besides this is not the subject of this piece. The only SAS personnel when I attended SAS were the ladies who helped the Sisters in the convent. I remember one of them and her name was Agatuna. She spoke very little English and some disjointed Ilocano. But she managed to get work done from us kids in the book binding trade. She assisted Mother Urban in managing the book returns, refurbishment and rebinding, and text book re-issuance at the beginning of the school year.

We were just kids, day dreamers and playful boys who knew nothing about life and reality. We traipsed through high school and worked revitalizing those books out of sheer fear of Mother Urban who had a mustache and a goatee. She was tough. One look from her spelled spiritual death you had to go see Father Carlos to get back into the church’s good graces. Agatuna was the “good cop” in that Mother Urban-Agatuna tandem. Agatuna suffered much from our juvenile derision and mild rebellion but she got the work done by threatening to report us to Mother Urban for our sloppy work.

In my memories, Agatuna, SAS Personnel of long ago did a splendid job helping the Nuns run the daily operations at St Augustine School. In many ways she counseled us, she showed us how to refurbish the books properly, showed us true loyalty and respect for authority, exemplified for us the spirit of reverence for the sacred; she showed us self-discipline. I am grateful for the time I worked under Agatuna’s tutelage and although she didn’t have a degree in Psychology she always knew how to give public recognition for a job well done and how to criticize in private. That experience, to me, has proved to be invaluable.

Thank you SAS personnel for continuing with the excellent tradition of service.

The CICM Missionary Nuns


The CICM Missionary Nuns ran a tight ship

The CICM Missionary Nuns ran a tight ship

Above is a photo of members of the first wave of missionary nuns to arrive in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. Hardy and not afraid to roll up their sleeves, they ran a tight ship St Augustine School (SAS). They were a no-nonsense bunch of very pious, saintly, and hard working sisters of the Immaculati Cordis Mariae – ICM Congregation or Congregation of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (CICM).

A long time ago, SAS ran as a gender-segregated school. The Boys Department buildings were separate and removed from the Girls Department buildings. The only places where the boys could catch a glimpse of the girls were the Church during afternoon prayers and singing, and on the basketball court when a game would be played. SAS had a championship basketball team during those days – but that is another story. Other than these two common areas, the boys had to be satisfied with casting perfunctory glances at the girls as they walked home after school.

We didn’t address the nuns “Sister;” we addressed them “Mother”. Mother Anatole, a tall, willowy, blue-eyed, bespectacled Belgian nun with acne problems took care of leading the church singing during the afternoon prayer service. With her podium positioned in front of the girl’s pews away from the men’s pews, Mother Anatole stood tall as the powerful symbol of discipline, reverence and rules of acceptable behavior. No hanky-panky in church, like, passing little notes on paper to the girls. No side glances at the girls.

I craned my neck just to be able to see her hand movements as she led the singing. In the afternoon heat and humidity the sonorous chanting sounds and sweet church music transported me to a different zone. I remember Mother Anatole’s dainty hands sticking out of her nun’s gartered habit sleeves. From where I sat, her hands looked like the heads of two swans dressed in white and cloaked in black. She moved them in an undulating, oscillating, pecking forward and again pulling backward motions in time with the music. The fluid motions of her hands were hypnotic and rhythmic.

To this day I could never understand why Mother Anatole just didn’t sway her arms with abandon just like other musical, or choir conductors did. I have seen Leonard Bernstein, Andre Previn, and even Henry Mancini conduct their orchestras and man they do move those arms. But not Mother Anatole. Instead, she kept her hands close to her habit sleeves, pulling out from time to time the garter ends of her sleeves to cover her wrists, as if trying to decrease how much of her arm could be overexposed to the public gaze and heaven forbid to the wandering eyes of the men sitting on the other side of the girl’s pews.

Going Back to School; I’m Excited – by Fegie Yvette Layco


Fegie Yvette Layco, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2011-12

Fegie Yvette Layco, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2011-12

School’s starting once again. There’s excitement in the air. I never thought I’d feel this way about school. First of all, going back to school and stepping up to the next higher level, or rung means progress, advancement, achievement – one step forward toward the finish line.

At the moment I feel like sprinting, dashing toward that yellow ribbon… both my arms up in the air, palms opened and waving to the crowd, I’m gasping for air with every sinew in my body aching… but the race… it’s won – Yay! That’s all that’s on my mind right at this moment. But wait. First things first. I am getting way ahead of myself.

Field Team Director, Mr Albert Bunoan met with us SAS Ai scholars and our parents today. He welcomed us back to the SAS campus and exuberantly announced before the end of the day we would all be enrolled and registered. The room burst into instant, unrehearsed but organized pandemonium. Shouts, howls, yells, screams, and shrieks of joy and jubilation drowned Mr Bunoan’s voice but only for a few seconds. He restored order quickly and continued, “Today we also get all our school supplies!” The applause was about to erupt once again but Mr Bunoan was quick to add, “Though not until we go over certain points.”

Scholar's school supplies

Scholar’s school supplies

Silence.

“What could Mr Bunoan mean?” I thought. I felt somewhat uneasy. Mr Bunoan had my undivided attention now and I craned my head to catch every word he had to say.

“Dear scholars and parents,” he began. “Welcome back. Today SAS Ai proudly announces school year 2013 open and you are the reason for the mission.” Mr Bunoan paused for a sip of water. “Let us work together to make 2013 our best year, welcoming those joining our community for the first time.” Mr Bunoan outlined our responsibilities as SAS Ai scholars and the responsibilities of our parents supportive of our schooling. He was most thorough. Critical things like good grades, perfect attendance, personal behavior and development, humility and honesty, and most of all that we enjoy our learning experiences. Yes – that is why I am so excited to go back to school. I enjoy learning.

FegieFieldsFurrows

The mind is like a field. The furrows are straight. Ready for the seeds of Knowledge to be sown.

Each day on my way to school I pass by the open fields. Some parts of the fields lay fallow while some parts look plowed and cleaned, tilled and readied for the planting. My mind goes through images, scenarios and a collage of mental artwork only I can appreciate. I think to myself, “What if my mind is like that field over there,” I look to my right and see the neat and straight furrows.The soil looks fertile, ready for the seeds.

Isn’t that the same as going to school and learning? Our minds are like fertile fields. We prepare the soil in neat furrows, straight and single-minded, focused and ready for the seeds of knowledge to be sown by the teacher. That is why we go to school.

“Hey Fegie,” I heard a voice. It was Mr Bunoan. “Are you ready for 2013? Are you going for the honor roll again this year?”

Feeling a bit embarrassed for my dizzy-fantasyheadedness I blurted out, “Of course Mr B… yes Sir I am going for the ribbon…” is it the yellow ribbon of the race’s end or the red ribbon of the honor roll… gosh, I don’t know, but I am going for it.

Thanks SAS Ai for this opportunity to go back to school. Thanks for all your caring, kindness and generosity.

We are ready and hummin’. Education is freedom! Yay!

May Your Heart be Filled With Joy and Gladness


teouched heart

If you feel a hollow in your heart, it is there waiting to be filled with joy and gladness by acts of kindness toward others

“When you give, give expecting nothing in return…” so the Good Book says. Peace be with you dear friend. We are still trying to raise enough money to send our kids to school that begins this coming June 2013. These are the bright and promising kids who come from disadvantaged families and who are eager and desirous to finish high school. A disadvantaged family makes less than P50,000 (Philippine pesos) or $1167 USD annual gross income.

Go to our secure online acceptance portal and use your credit card (VISA, M/C, DISC) to transact your tax-deductible donation. You can also open a monthly $45 dollar allotment if it makes it easier on your budgeting process. It costs $540 a year to send one kid to high school. Any amount you wish to donate helps send a promising child to school. Our program holds the sponsored child accountable for maintaining good grades, and the child’s family for making sure the child gets time to study.

To find out what the $540 USD annual cost covers go to our SAS Ai, Inc. website. While there, meet our scholars and those who volunteer to run the program. Consider your donation as an investment for the future. Consider your donation as an act of kindness toward those who can’t pay you back. Consider your donation as necessary in helping a child realize his or her childhood dream. Consider your donation as liberating these children from poverty – because education is freedom!

Thank you dear friend for your donation and support. May your heart be filled with joy and gladness.

A Fulfilling Summer Break – by Melvie Legaspina

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Melvie Legaspina, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2011-12

Melvie Legaspina, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2011-12

Toward the end of the school year all my friends and I could enthusiastically talk about was the coming summer vacation. We all needed a break from school. Homework assignments, classroom activities, school projects, not to mention the never-ending pop quizzes and periodic examinations have all but sapped the last ounce of our energies. The mere mention of summer vacation electrified the atmosphere. We dreamed and we kept on talking.

All Green

Home Sweet Home – in the middle of green fields with banana trees, at the edge of a lush forest

Some of my SAS Ai scholar friends talked about escaping with family to faraway places. Others talked about trying new adventures and visiting relatives who lived in nearby provinces. A couple of classmates declared their upcoming trip and break to the big city. I felt a tingle up my spine when they mentioned the “Big City”. They were talking about the big city of Manila. Blinking neon lights danced in the back of my head, tall buildings rising up skyward, and rows upon rows of them adorning the city skyline. I swallowed hard as I tried to mask my intimidated pride and feelings of envy percolating to the surface. I was happy for them and I told them so.

For me, I knew my parents couldn’t afford such trips. I resigned myself to the idea of staying local. Indeed I will spend my summer vacation in my home sweet home – right in the middle of the green rice fields, accented with banana trees and edged by a lush forest of mangoes, santol trees, longboy and sarguelas.

ditches

The irrigation water flows by the coconut trees and banana trees through the property

Besides, my father had planted new cash crops and he needed help not only in making sure the irrigation system flowed unimpeded but also in making sure the seedling beds were properly watered and weeded. My mother, bless her heart, also expected me to look after the vegetable garden out back, watering it and making sure the goats didn’t break in to ruthlessly feast on the morangi leaves and sweet purple yam shoots.

In between trips to the fields I managed to read two books. I did some deep thinking too about the coming school year. I have set my priorities, the most important of which is to learn all that I can learn and be the best scholar.

The little help I gave my parents during the summer break made me fill good and fulfilled. I noticed how my father would usually work in the fields starting early and working until sunset, walking home in the darkening dusk of twilight. During my summer break my father was able to come home earlier, joining us for family dinner. What a great feeling that gave me.

Every good thing comes to an end. The summer vacation is no different. Summer must leave so that the new school year can begin. So with a sad heart I bade my friend, Summer, farewell. Until next year… until next year.